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XIX Olympic Games Acapulco, Mexico - Regatta Report

XIX Olympic Games Acapulco, Mexico 1968
by Peter Barrett (From the 1969 Star Class Log)
Complete results

Note: This report of the 1968 Olympics has been scanned in by Ed Sprague. For a collection of Worlds' reports plus photographs contact Ed Sprague ( ) to order his book "The San Diego Bay Star Fleet".

Lowell North and Peter Barrett, Gold Medal winners, round the windward mark in the lead at Acapulco

Race 1
The leeward end of the line was favored by 40 degrees (the FD's couldn't cross the line on starboard tack). We planned a fairly conservative start about a third of the way from the buoy, but we went faster than expected and started at the buoy, head-reaching around it by six inches. The course was as bad as the line, with about 90 percent port tack ... we tacked quickly, but as always when a group sails on the same tack for a long time, the leeward boats could pick their time and four of them beat us to the weather mark, despite our very good speed. The first reach was very close, and the second a run ... three of the boats ahead of us headed too high too soon after the jibe and we were suddenly second behind Elvstrom (who also knew which way to go!)

We rounded the leeward mark about 60 feet behind Paul, and nearly even with Peder Lunde of Norway ... we elected to drive off to leeward, and half way up the beat we had driven through Paul and come back up to have him directly behind us. That was fun! The rest of the race we stayed between Paul and Peder and the mark, and won going away ... Peder was second, and appeared to have good speed in the 12-15 knot winds.

Race 2
The wind was about the same as the first day, but the line was better. Lowell was feeling sick . . . not "tourista", which we had avoided by drinking no water, but just plain cold and flu . . . he didn't say much, but it was easy to sense how poor he felt.
We did start conservatively this time, and were seventh at the weather mark. We caught Timor Pinegin from Russia and Paul on the first reach, sailing in under Paul to get an overlap at the jibing mark ... really enjoyed that, too, remembering how badly he had beaten us off the wind by steering on waves at Kiel. Lowell is really good at using waves now ... we always gain in marginal surfing conditions when he concentrates.

We moved up to third on the second beat, passing Bernet of Switzerland and John Albrechtson of Sweden on some small shifts. Peter and Henrik Tallberg of Finland had a big lead, and Lunde of Norway was second. On the run the Tallbergs broke their boom, and on the last beat Norway covered us pretty thoroughly ... we covered third place Bernet of Switzerland and Franco Cavallo of Italy came from seventh to pass us just before the finish on a well-played shift and took second. We were discouraged at losing second, and Lowell felt terrible. He lay in bottom of the boat all the way back to the yacht club. Looks like it might be Lunde who will be tough.

Race 3
Another good breeze from the west ... this is the third day of 12-18 knot winds. Who said light air? We were a very close eighth at the first weather mark, and caught only Australia on the two reaches. However, we played small shifts and went fast and passed five boats for second starting the run ... Norway had been behind us all the way. We gained on Switzerland, getting to within two boat lengths as we approached the finish line, but I goofed and we didn't go for the favored end of the badly set line, losing Durward Knowles of the Bahamas even though we had been 200 yards ahead of him.

It was discouraging to lose another second in the last minute, and Lowell again headed for the bottom of the boat and lay down as soon as we finished. Peder Lunde was sixth, but was still ahead of us with a throw-out.

Race 4
For the first time the wind was from the south, and a little lighter. We went to the left side of the course, worrying about Knowles and Cavallo and just hoping Lunde didn't find anything good on the right.

Stuart Jardine of Great Britain was first at the mark from the right side, but the next six boats came from the left ... during the reaches the wind swung about 35 degrees to the right ... we were third, thanks to a nice starboard lift as we approached the mark, with Durward just ahead of us. We passed him on the reach, and started after Jardine ... during the reaches the wind swung about 35 degrees to the right (that would have put Norway at the top and us 12th had it happened during the first beat!) and the last two beats were long starboard tacks with short hitches to the right at appropriate times. Our times were most appropriate, and we passed Jardine just before the mark.

At this stage Durward was closest to us in the series, so on the last beat we covered both but hoped Jardine could hold second, which he did. Peder Lunde was 11th, Cavallo 8th, and Bernet 10th ... and we could finally breathe just a little bit easier.
Lowell was feeling a little better, although he lay on the deck during the last run ... I was hoping he'd be well after the lay day. The worst thing was that I knew darn well he wasn't enjoying the racing ... it's really miserable to have to sail when you feel pretty sick, as most of us know from experience.

Race 5
This was really the deciding race in my mind ... we had 1-1-3, with a 3 to throw out. Durward had 2-3-6, Peder 1-2-6, Franco 2-4-8, Paul 3-6-7, Bernet 1-14-10 ... and none of them had a good throw-out remaining.

We spent the first beat halfway between Peder and Durward, and as it turned out Durward was right . . . he was first at the weather mark, with Franco, the Schmidt brothers from Brazil, and us. We all opened out some on the reaches, and it was a four boat from then on. With plenty of shifts to play it was fun, and we emerged at the second weather mark second to Brazil, with Franco and Durward behind, where we wanted them. We couldn't think of anyone we'd rather have win than Eric and Axel Schmidt, who had their boat moving for the first time in the series. The run was a problem ... for no apparent reason, both Franco and Durward ran past us and we were fourth staring the last beat.

So we played the shifts again up the last beat, got by all three and were leading for a while, but lost Franco who went behind us out to the right and got a nice lift. We sat on Durward in to the finish, still regarding him as the number one threat, which didn't make him very happy as Cavallo won and he was fourth, thereby losing series second.

For the first time I was absolutely certain we would win ... we only needed one fifth in the next two races, assuming our closet competitor, Franco, won them both. It has been a tough, interesting race, Lowell felt well enough to really enjoy it, and we had a good lead in the series. A good day!

Race 6
Our last real challenge in the series came when we started to hoist the main after towing out to the course. The mail halyard broke at the ball, a foot from the sail. We looked at the Star mast wondering how to get the sail up there to stay ... climbing it was out of the question. ... it isn't strong enough. There wasn't enough time to tow back and out again. Even though there was an unpleasant swell running, we finally decided to unstep the mast, pull the sail along the mast and lock it, then put the mast and sail back up. We got help from an official on the towboat, but it took 45 minutes (we barely made our first start) and with some tricky moments ... Lowell had to swim out astern to get the sail to the top, as the mast is much longer than the boat. And lifting the entire rig while the boat rolled around was a tricky proposition. We only forgot to have the jumper level pointing correctly, so we had to sail the race with the jumper tied off.

This was the only light air race of the series. We started by trying to go where Cavallo went, but I called every one of our tacks wrong and we were eighth at the weather mark. On the second beat I talked Lowell out of continuing on port because I thought it looked like the fresh puffs were hitting from the left, and the wind went 30 degrees to the right, dropping us to 11th. We lost Eckart Wagner from Germany on the run, and although we caught up a little, we couldn't pass anyone on the last beat and finished a rather dismal 12th. I felt like I'd really had a bad day.

Ironically, that 12th clinched the Gold Medal for us, as Cavallo finished fourth and we would now win by 0.6 even if we did not sail the last race and Cavallo won. Had this been a better race for us we might not have sailed the final race, but we were determined not to finish with a 12th.

Race 7
With all the pressure off, we were free to sail without regard for anyone else. The course was terrible (we could come within five degrees of laying the weather mark for 30 minutes before our start, but the committee didn't alter the weather leg, even though they had all of the necessary instructions to change weather marks during the race), and we started at the committee boat end and tacked nearly on the gun. The only critical decision was to drive through under Peder Lunde just after the start, rather than tack away. The fleet fell in behind us on port tack, we finally pinned Peder just before the mark and forced him to take our stern, and from then on we led at every mark and won with a good lead. Halfway up the second beat we went over to sit on Peder, even though he was battling Italy and Denmark for the silver medal ... we had to sail to win, no holds barred, in fairness to Peder's competitors. Peder got his second and the Silver Medal anyway, and well deserved it.